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Peter Foster: Inside notorious conman’s lavish $1200 a week Gisborne hideaway with picturesque views

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Notorious Australian conman Peter Foster was hiding out in a lavish $1,200-a-week estate with picturesque views of Victoria’s Macedon Ranges when he was captured by an elite team of ‘fugitive hunters’.

Australian Federal Police officers smashed down the door of the 58-year-old’s Short Road home in Gisborne on Tuesday – six months after he allegedly skipped court charged with a million-dollar cryptocurrency scam. 

The heavily-armed Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team found Foster hiding under a deck, barefoot and wearing track pants and a cheap white t-shirt, before he was placed under arrest and dragged away.

Police said Foster was living ‘quite comfortably’ and another man found in the house is being investigated to determine what assistance he may have offered the serial scamster.  

Rental records of the six-bedroom property, which has 360 degree views of the valley, show it has been leased out for $1,200-a-week since August this year. 

Notorious Australian conman Peter Foster (pictured) was captured by an elite team of 'fugitive hunters' six months after he allegedly skipped court charged with a million-dollar cryptocurrency scam.

Notorious Australian conman Peter Foster (pictured) was captured by an elite team of ‘fugitive hunters’ six months after he allegedly skipped court charged with a million-dollar cryptocurrency scam.

Foster was captured inside a six-bedroom luxury estate (pictured) which overlooks Victoria's Macedon Ranges

Foster was captured inside a six-bedroom luxury estate (pictured) which overlooks Victoria’s Macedon Ranges

The lavish home, which has panoramic views of the valley, has been rented out since August for $1200-a-week

The lavish home, which has panoramic views of the valley, has been rented out since August for $1200-a-week 

Photos posted online show the house, which came fully-furnished,  filled with opulent furniture and interior decorations

Photos posted online show the house, which came fully-furnished,  filled with opulent furniture and interior decorations

The property has a wrap-around deck, pingpong table, three bathrooms, and five car spaces. Pictured: The kitchen

The property has a wrap-around deck, pingpong table, three bathrooms, and five car spaces. Pictured: The kitchen  

The two-storey home, nestled on a sprawling 10 acres of bushland, came fully-furnished, with pictures online showing each room decked out with opulent homeware and ritzy artworks. 

A long winding driveway leads to the house, which is set back more than 200metres from the main road in a private patch of bushland and was reportedly used as a hobby farm. 

Panoramic windows encase the entire façade which faces towards the only incoming road to the house, giving guests full view of anyone who may be approaching the premises. 

Photos of the interior show a telescope set up inside the living room, looking out across rolling hills that stretch into Lerderderg State Park.

Other facilities include a wrap-around deck, Ping-Pong table, three bathrooms, three outdoor dining spaces, and five car spaces. 

Foster had allegedly been running a new gambling scam when federal police busted through the doors of the luxury rural estate on Tuesday, The Australian reports. 

It is alleged the scam involved a company which had been set up using the name of a dead man.  

Images of the dramatic raid show him quivering on the floor as officers descend on the rural premises.

Images of the dramatic raid show Foster quivering on the floor (pictured) as officers descend on the rural premises

Images of the dramatic raid show Foster quivering on the floor (pictured) as officers descend on the rural premises

The property, set on ten acres, is nestled in bushland more than 200 metres away from the main road (pictured)

The property, set on ten acres, is nestled in bushland more than 200 metres away from the main road (pictured)

He had initially tried to escape the tactical officers by hiding under a deck, eventually coming out when threatened with use of force. 

Sources told the Australian he then began squirming around on the ground complaining of a medical condition and paramedics were called. He was taken to Royal Melbourne Hospital as a precaution.   

Foster failed to appear in a Sydney court on fraud-related charges in May and an electronic tracker stopped sending a signal. 

His lawyer at the time admitted he had no idea where his client was.

The case against Foster involves allegations he conned $1.7 million in Bitcoin out of a retired pilot in Hong Kong as part of a sport betting scam.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan said the the arrest serves as a warning to the most dangerous and wanted fugitives hiding out in Australia.

‘The AFP’s world-leading technical and forensic capabilities is again demonstrating to offenders that there is nowhere to hide,’ he said.

‘There is no safe haven for criminals in Australia. The AFP, with our partner agencies, are relentless in ensuring those wanted for crimes face justice.

‘The arrest by FAST continues to demonstrate the close relationships the AFP has with state and territory police in combating transnational, serious and organised crime.’ 

Peter Foster, a notorious conman, has been arrested six months after he allegedly skipped court while facing fraud-related charges (pictured during his arrest in August last year)

Peter Foster, a notorious conman, has been arrested six months after he allegedly skipped court while facing fraud-related charges (pictured during his arrest in August last year)

Foster – using the alias Bill Dawson – allegedly promised a series of investors including pilot Konstantinos ‘Dino’ Stylianopoulosas ‘guaranteed returns’ on their money by having a mathematician predict the outcome of sports matches.

Prosecutors say Stylianopoulosas transferred Foster $2 million in cryptocurrency over the course of nine months between 2019 and 2020, in amounts ranging from $126,000 to $890,000.

But investors say their money ‘evaporated’ after they invested in the firm, called Sports Predictions, and prosecutors allege that no bets were ever placed and the money was instead diverted to Foster.

Police were tipped off about the alleged con after Stylianopoulosas contacted a team of investigators at IFW Global, who then worked with officers to track Foster down.

He was eventually tracked down to far north Queensland where he was dramatically arrested in August last year.

Foster outside court on April 22. The case against him involves allegations he conned $1.7million in Bitcoin out of a retired pilot in Hong Kong as part of a sports betting scam

Foster outside court on April 22. The case against him involves allegations he conned $1.7million in Bitcoin out of a retired pilot in Hong Kong as part of a sports betting scam

Footage of the arrest, taken by IFW Global, showed two officers dressed as joggers running towards Foster on the beach before tackling him to the ground. 

The case was sent to NSW, because that is where the cryptocurrency exchange used for the transactions was based. 

Foster was released on bail at that hearing but effectively put under house arrest and fitted with an electronic tag to return to court.

That hearing took place on May 20, with Foster’s lawyer Justin Lewis telling the court the pair met in his office in Sydney that day at 11.30am.

Mr Lewis said Foster assured him that he would turn up, but by 2pm he was nowhere to be seen and couldn’t be contacted because his bail conditions prohibit him from carrying a phone.

The Australian Federal Police said Foster, 59, was arrested near the Victorian town of Gisborne in the state's Macedon Ranges after a six month search

The Australian Federal Police said Foster, 59, was arrested near the Victorian town of Gisborne in the state’s Macedon Ranges after a six month search

Foster rose to infamy in 2002 when he sparked ‘Cheriegate’ after it emerged he had helped then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife buy two discounted houses. 

Cherie initially denied Foster – already an established fraudster who had served jail time in the UK – was involved in the deal, but after the Daily Mail exposed emails between the pair she was forced to make an apology.

This year does not mark the first time Foster has vanished while in trouble with the law.

During the 1980s, while marketing a brand of tea that he claimed was an ‘ancient Chinese weight loss secret’, he hopped from Australia, to the UK and then to the US – setting up a string of companies to market the tea.

Foster pictured outside court in September 2019. He was dramatically arrested in August last year after being tracked down to a beach in far north Queensland

Foster pictured outside court in September 2019. He was dramatically arrested in August last year after being tracked down to a beach in far north Queensland

Peter Foster is pictured leaving the Downing Centre District Court, in Sydney in April.

Peter Foster is pictured leaving the Downing Centre District Court, in Sydney in April. 

Foster outside a Gold Coast court in 2012. He was arrested for the first time in 1983 for a fake £40,000 insurance claim over a cancelled boxing match

Foster outside a Gold Coast court in 2012. He was arrested for the first time at the age of 20 for a fake £40,000 insurance claim over a cancelled boxing match

In fact, the tea was ordinary black tea, but each time a firm was placed under investigation, Foster moved country and set up again. He was eventually jailed over the scam in the US.

Foster had already served jail time for fraud when he helped Cherie Blair, the wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, buy two cut-price homes in 2002

Foster had already served jail time for fraud when he helped Cherie Blair, the wife of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, buy two cut-price homes in 2002

Returning to Britain in the 1990s, he was jailed again – this time for plugging ‘thigh reduction cream’ – but absconded while on day release and went back to Australia.

He was arrested on a British warrant in Australia, absconded again, and was then re-arrested and spent more time in jail in both countries.

After spending some time in Fiji in 2001, he returned to Britain in 2002 where he began dating Carole Caplin, who was then Cherie Blair’s style guru.

It was through Carole that Foster was introduced to Cherie, and helped the Prime Minister’s wife purchase two properties in Bristol at discounted rates.

When the deal was exposed, Cherie initially denied Foster was involved, until the Daily Mail printed email conversations between the pair.

In them, Cherie called Foster ‘a star’ and told him ‘we’re on the same wavelength.’

The revelation prompted a tearful public apology from Cherie, who denied knowing about Foster’s criminal past and blamed her ‘mistake’ on ‘trying to be a good wife and mother, trying to be the prime ministerial consort at home and abroad..’

‘Some of the balls get dropped – there just aren’t enough hours in the day,’ she said.

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PETER FOSTER  

Early Years

As a teenager in the late 1970s, Foster began promoting nightclubs and boxing matches on the Gold Coast. But he was declared bankrupt in the early 80s after trying to sell tickets for a Muhammad Ali fight in Australia that never came off. He was also fined $A100,000 in Britain for trying to claim insurance for a cancelled fight.

Slimming Teas

Undeterred, Foster hooked up with a number of high-profile British girlfriends who he used to promote his ‘slimming’ Bai Lin Tea. He fled Britain and fraudulently re-marketed the product as Chow Low Tea in the US where he was caught and forced to serve four months in jail. He was also jailed in the UK when he returned in 1995.

Cherie-Gate

Foster sparked two weeks of turmoil for British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2002 when he became a financial adviser to Blair’s wife Cherie. He and girlfriend Carole Caplin, a confidante to Mrs Blair, helped as ‘middle men’ in the purchase of two flats in Bristol.

Fijian Follies

Chased by local police in 2006 for forging documents about his criminal history, Foster strips down to his underpants and dives from a bridge into a river but hits his head on a boat and is captured.

He then goes on a hunger strike, preventing hospital staff from handing him over to police because he’s too weak. While on bail, escapes to Vanuatu on a boat.

Slim Pickings

Foster is declared bankrupt by the Federal Court in January 2018 after refusing to pay court costs relating to SensaSlim, a scam weight loss company. 

He was jailed in 2014 for contempt of court over SensaSlim, before which he had spent around a year in hiding in a bush property near Byron Bay.

Sports Rorts

Foster arrives six hours late to his sentencing at a Sydney court in October 2018 after being sentenced for possessing a fake Irish passport in order to get an offshore betting license for a sports trading company. 

His lawyer told the court his client’s delay was down to food poisoning.  

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Girl who fell from ‘Santa train’ settles High Court action

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A girl who fell out of a miniature “Santa train” on her way to visit a festive grotto has settled her High Court action against the operators for €192,000.

Freya Moore, who was six at the time of the 2016 incident, fell out through a door gap over which a chain was placed as the train was going around a corner in the Donegal attraction, it was claimed.

Her jacket allegedly got caught in part of the train and she was dragged for a short distance with her leg getting caught under the train before the alarm was raised, it was further claimed.

Freya, now 11, suffered a soft tissue injury to her leg and later required plastic surgery.

Through her father, Chris Moore, Breton Road, Lisburn, Co Antrim, she sued the operator of the Santa Train, Gerry Robinson, trading as Difflin Light Railways, operating at Oakfield Park, Raphoe, Co Donegal.

The accident happened on December 17th, 2016, when she was on a visit to the Santa Train excursion which involved travelling from “Oakfield Park Station” to a Santa’s grotto.

Liability was not conceded and there was a full defence to the claim.

In the action, it was claimed the defendant was negligent on a number of grounds including a failure to provide a safe premises and to ensure the chain across the door was at a height suitable to ensure a child of her age would not fall out.

It was claimed she was left with a scar on her right lower leg and may require further plastic surgery in the future. Afterwards, she was worried about accidents and falling out of a car and was anxious when visiting fairgrounds.

Micheál Ó Scanaill SC, for Freya, told the court the case had been settled for €192,000.

Mr Justice Michael Hanna approved the settlement with a payout of €2,000 for Freya and the remainder to be lodged in court until she reaches 18. The judge wished her the best of luck.

Mr Robinson died in October 2021.

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Catella invests €15.5m in Portuguese student accommodation

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The Catella European Residential Fund (CER) has made its first venture into the emerging Portuguese institutional investment market for student housing with the acquisition of an asset in the municipality of Cascais, just to the west of Lisbon, for €15.5m. The vendor is Value One HoldingThe property is located close to the beach in the Lombos neighbourhood of Carcavelos within the Cascais municipality and is a 10-minute walk from Portugal’s most prestigious business school, the NOVA School of Business and Economics, which has a student population of over 3,500. The centre of Lisbon can be reached within 20 minutes via two train stations. The 6,622m² property was built in 2020 and comprises 192 spacious single rooms (20m² on average) with a gym, rooftop terrace, study, music and leisure rooms and parking. It is 99% occupied and has obtained LEED Gold sustainability certification for its construction.

 

European student accommodation provider MILESTONE operates the residence under a management contract. MILESTONE was founded in Vienna, is a member of the Value One Group, an international real estate Developer and student housing operator and brings extensive knowledge of the conception, design and successful management of student housing, combined with international expertise. MILESTONE currently has 4,627 beds of purpose-built student housing under management and in development across Austria, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Italy.

 

Eduardo Guardiola, Managing Partner of Catella AM Iberia, said: This is a milestone for CER marking the vehicle’s first investment in Portugal. It is also an important step for CRIM as it represents the investment manager’s entry into Portugal. For Catella AM Iberia it marks our third transaction as advisors on a student accommodation acquisition in the Iberian region. The Portuguese real estate market is becoming increasingly relevant across both the affordable rental and student housing markets – which although very different in maturity and size offer some excellent investment opportunities.”

 

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Kirstie and Phil’s Love It Or List It viewers slam father-of-two who ‘clearly wants a bachelor pad’

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Viewers of Kirstie and Phil’s Love it or List it last night slammed a father-of-two who ‘clearly wanted a bachelor pad’ after he said he wanted a home where his children were ‘out the way.’

Sophie and Paul, from Aylesbury, who had spent the last eight years  in their home, had been totally split on whether they should renovate or list their property on the market for three years. 

The couple had allocated £90,000 to transform their house, but also had a £525,000 budget to look at new homes elsewhere. 

Following Kirstie’s advice on the show, they spent £80,000 converting their garage into a large living space as well as knocking down their old conservatory to make way for a huge extension.

But many of those watching were unimpressed by Paul’s attitude after he said he liked their new playroom because it meant his children ‘couldn’t bug him’.

Viewers of Kirstie and Phil's Love it or List it last night slammed Paul, from Aylesbury who 'clearly wanted a bachelor pad' after he said a home where his children were 'out the way'

Viewers of Kirstie and Phil’s Love it or List it last night slammed Paul, from Aylesbury who ‘clearly wanted a bachelor pad’ after he said a home where his children were ‘out the way’

Sophie and Paul had spent the last eight years in their home but said they had been totally split on whether they should renovate or list their property on the market for three years

Sophie and Paul had spent the last eight years in their home but said they had been totally split on whether they should renovate or list their property on the market for three years

The couple allocated £90,000 to transform their home and added an enormous extension, as well as converting their garage

The couple allocated £90,000 to transform their home and added an enormous extension, as well as converting their garage 

One wrote: ‘He doesn’t like his in-laws, his kids or his house. Think he wishes he was still a bachelor.’

Another wrote: ‘The partner is just gross, he just keeps going on about not being a bachelor anymore and how he doesn’t want the kids to bug him.

‘I get the sense he still likes to think of himself as a bachelor, I can just imagine him on a night out without her.’ 

Appearing on the programme last night, Sophie and Paul had been together for eight years and had two children, seven-year-old Finley and three-year-old Georgia. 

Both Sophie and Paul confessed they felt their family had outgrown the space which they had been living in for the past 13 years

Both Sophie and Paul confessed they felt their family had outgrown the space which they had been living in for the past 13 years 

Following Kirstie's advice they converted their garage into a large living space as well as knocking down their old conservatory to make way for a huge extension

Following Kirstie’s advice they converted their garage into a large living space as well as knocking down their old conservatory to make way for a huge extension

But when Paul bought their three bedroom house 13 years ago, a family home was not the objective. 

He explained: ‘This was my bachelor pad. I’m team List It, I want something fresh and new for Sophie and the kids.’

Meanwhile Sophie said: ‘I’m definitely a home bird and I love being here.’

She said they relied on her parents ‘a lot’ because they lived at the bottom of the road.   

Paul said the living room was one of his pet hates because the family were 'always on top of each other'

Paul said the living room was one of his pet hates because the family were ‘always on top of each other’ 

Meanwhile the couple had converted the property's conservatory into a playroom but admitted it wasn't fit for purpose for their children

Meanwhile the couple had converted the property’s conservatory into a playroom but admitted it wasn’t fit for purpose for their children 

But Paul said: ‘My pet hates include the location, the small bedroom upstairs is a tiny box-room. 

‘The playroom downstairs isn’t fit for purpose, the kitchen needs overhauling and the garage is a mess.

‘The most important thing for me in a house is having the divide between adult space and children space and I think that’s important especially as they grow up.’ 

Sophie added: ‘We’ve been in a limbo now for three years where nothing has been done.’  

The first property that Phil showed the couple was a 1930s semi which was just one mile away from their current home was (pictured)

The first property that Phil showed the couple was a 1930s semi which was just one mile away from their current home was (pictured) 

The four-bedroom home was listed under budget at £475,000 with a cosy separate living room, an up to date kitchen diner and a large family garden (pictured, the kitchen diner)

The four-bedroom home was listed under budget at £475,000 with a cosy separate living room, an up to date kitchen diner and a large family garden (pictured, the kitchen diner) 

While Sophie said the bedrooms were 'nice' (pictured), Paul commented that a spiral staircase up to the master suite was 'a bit tight when you come home late at night drunk'

While Sophie said the bedrooms were ‘nice’ (pictured), Paul commented that a spiral staircase up to the master suite was ‘a bit tight when you come home late at night drunk’

She told Kirstie and Phil she wanted to extend their home, while Paul said: ‘I’ve fallen out of love with the property. We’re all on top of each other here.’ 

But Sophie admitted she was unwilling to move further than a 15 minute drive from her parent’s home. 

Kirstie warned they would have to go to the top of their budget to fix the home’s problems, suggesting extending the kitchen diner into the area where the current conservatory is.

Meanwhile she said they could also convert the garage into a new living room, creating space for a new hallway. 

The second property on the search was in the village of Prestwood and priced at just under £550,000 (pictured)

The second property on the search was in the village of Prestwood and priced at just under £550,000 (pictured) 

It had four bright bedrooms, all of which were big enough to accommodate the children as they got older, as well as a separate playroom and a large kitchen (pictured, the kitchen)

It had four bright bedrooms, all of which were big enough to accommodate the children as they got older, as well as a separate playroom and a large kitchen (pictured, the kitchen)

Paul confessed he liked the property because of it's playroom, adding it would 'keep the children out the way' (pictured)

Paul confessed he liked the property because of it’s playroom, adding it would ‘keep the children out the way’ (pictured) 

Upstairs, the extension would give space for four bedrooms and a master suite.

Meanwhile the first property that Phil showed the couple was a 1930s semi which was just one mile away from their current home was. 

The four-bedroom home was listed under budget at £475,000 with a cosy separate living room, an up to date kitchen diner and a large family garden.

While Sophie said the bedrooms were ‘nice’, Paul commented that a spiral staircase up to the master suite was ‘a bit tight when you come home late at night drunk.’  

The final property was a large detached four-bedroom home was on budget for £525,000 (pictured)

The final property was a large detached four-bedroom home was on budget for £525,000 (pictured) 

It featured a large kitchen diner (pictured) and an office room to the front which could be used as a playroom

It featured a large kitchen diner (pictured) and an office room to the front which could be used as a playroom 

However the couple ultimately decided the downstairs living space wasn’t large enough for their family. 

The second property on the search was in the village of Prestwood and priced at just under £550,000. 

The detached home had been on the market a while, and Phil hoped that a deal could be done.

It had four bright bedrooms, all of which were big enough to accommodate the children as they got older, as well as a separate playroom and a large kitchen.   

After fifteen months of renovations, Kirstie and Phil returned to see the couple's changes to their property and were blown away

After fifteen months of renovations, Kirstie and Phil returned to see the couple’s changes to their property and were blown away 

Commenting on the couple's decision to have  a larger playroom for their children, Paul said it meant they 'wouldn't come through to bug us'

Commenting on the couple’s decision to have  a larger playroom for their children, Paul said it meant they ‘wouldn’t come through to bug us’

Paul commented: ‘Good playroom at the front…keep them out the way. Eventually this could be my main cave.’ 

And the final property in their search was in the quaint village of Stoke, with Paul saying: ‘I like the outside and it’s in a good location.’

The four-bedroom home was on budget for £525,000, with a large kitchen diner and an office room to the front which could be used as a playroom.

Outside, there was a double length garage which could be used for storage space. 

Fifteen months after the couple started the renovations on their home, Kirstie and Phil returned to find the property had been completely transformed. 

However despite Sophie and Paul's joy about their converted home, and their decision to stay in the property, many viewers were unimpressed by his attitud

However despite Sophie and Paul’s joy about their converted home, and their decision to stay in the property, many viewers were unimpressed by his attitud

They were blown away by the extension the couple had added to their home, with even Sophie admitting it was ‘bigger than they expected it to be.’

Meanwhile Paul added: ‘It’s definitely not a bachelor pad now.’

And commenting on the decision to build a separate  play room, he said: ‘The children can turn right [to the playroom] as opposed to coming all the way through here and bugging us.’ 

Overall the couple spent £80,000 and the property value has increased by £150,0000.

However despite Sophie and Paul’s joy about their converted home, and their decision to stay in the property, many viewers were unimpressed by his attitude. 

One wrote: ‘I think this guy just doesn’t want to live in the same house as his kids.’

Another added: ‘The guy on this obviously wants away from her parents and somewhere to shove the kids out of the way…he wants a bachelor pad…just come out and say it!’

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